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Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Conflict loophole

When a city council committee sits tomorrow to review conflict of interest rules, it needs to use a heap of common sense.

The meeting comes as a result of a complaint by former councillor Kevin O'Reilly.

A review committee found that Alan Woytuik was not in a conflict of interest when he expressed interest in developing land near Hordal Road.

The committee did say there was an appearance of conflict by Woytuik, whose term on council has now ended.

It's a strange situation when a councillor can be involved in a discussion to rezone the Hordal land from nature preserve, then express an interest in developing that land, but not be found in conflict.

As a result of the ruling, Woytuik has withdrawn his interest in the land. That's the right thing to do.

The next step is for the committee to plug this apparent hole in the regulations.

Sitting council members should not be eligible to bid on land that they have voted to rezone. It's that simple.

Strength in numbers

For 60 years, the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce has been businesses' best friend.

Whether it's offering group insurance, credit card discounts or fleet fuel prices, the chamber brings benefits that individual businesses may not be otherwise able to afford.

Most important, however, is the chamber's role as a lobby group and networking agency.

The day-to-day demands of making sure inventory is up to date, staff is hired and trained and the books are in order can leave precious little time for much else.

With the chamber, however, mom-and-pop organizations can have a voice on issues that range from taxes to training and regulatory change.

With 449 members, the Yellowknife chamber's voice can be loud indeed.

Even the regular meetings are important. It may seem like there are better ways to spend an hour, but by attending monthly luncheons or after -hours events, businesspeople can mix and mingle and share information.

Who knows, perhaps someone else has solved a problem like the one you're going through.

With the chamber's 60th anniversary celebration now passed, it's important to realize, too, that the organization is only as strong as its membership.

People must be involved and vocal for the chamber to be effective.

Formal education still the key to success

Editorial Comment
Darrell Greer
Kivalliq News

We find it difficult to understand why so many fail to grasp the importance of formal education in Nunavut.

Once again, people were up in arms when the Canadian Research Institute for Social Policy released its latest findings.

In short, the report stated we aren't graduating enough students from high school and, of the ones who do make it, less than five per cent complete any form of post-secondary study.

Nobody disputes the importance of cultural relevancy in education, especially in Nunavut.

Yes, our educational system has to be adjusted to acknowledge Inuit culture, and credit must be given for Inuit Qaujiniajatuqangit.

Traditional land, hunting, sewing and artistry skills remain of paramount importance in the Arctic.

That being said, they cannot be acknowledged to the point where a student's formal education suffers.

It would be easy for the Nunavut government to develop an academic system that would give so much credit for traditional knowledge that our percentage of Grade 12 graduates would skyrocket.

But that increase in the number of graduates would not end these studies, it would simply change them.

Instead of not enough grads, the studies would indicate our grads are ill-prepared to acquire the skills in demand in today's workforce.

In this very edition, you will read that more than half the Kivalliq applicants for a heavy-equipment-operator course could not meet the minimum Grade 10 standard.

As much as program facilitators may have wanted to, do you believe they could take traditional knowledge into account in allowing someone to take control of such powerful machinery?

Of course not. Formal education is needed to master the skills to operate the machinery properly.

Remember, we're talking heavy equipment here. We won't go down the path of the formal education needed for 1,000 other careers.

There are some areas traditional knowledge blends quite nicely with formal education.

The midwifery program being developed at Nunavut Arctic College is a prime example of the two being combined to produce, what we're sure will prove itself to be, a superior program.

But such examples are too limited to take Nunavut to where it has to be for our territory to decrease its dependency on Ottawa.

To make an analogy: ask a former star college athlete who couldn't make it to the professional ranks if his school did him any favours by propping up his marks with bogus course credits.

We don't need any illusions or delusions involved with the ongoing creation of Nunavut's educational system.

Too many people have bought into the illusion of unsubstantiated promises here for the past seven years.

We remain a territory where a select few form the power base and continue to benefit financially, while the general populace treads the waters of poverty.

The key to narrowing the gap between the upper and lower class rests in the hands of education.

And, as with any key that leads to powerful places, you have to forge your own.

Nobody's going to hand you one!

The price of growing up

Editorial Comment
Dez Loreen
Inuvik Drum

As I drove home from the town meeting about the new school last week, all I could think of was a question asked by a guy at the back of the room.

Yup, the guy at the back of the room who speaks up when the crowd is silent.

You all know him, the person who arrives late to a town meeting and has innovative and sometimes unconventional thoughts to share with the public.

It's not even the same guy all the time. I think this entity changes shape so not to raise suspicion.

He asks questions like he was planted to do so by the presenter.

So this time around, mister X drapes his sport coat over his shoulder and asks the presenters how they will deal with the loss of the baseball diamond and soccer field during the three-year construction period of the new schools.

I stumbled to think of a response in my head, but was stopped by the notion of not having a ball diamond for three years.

Sure, we all know I don't play slo-pitch, but people seem to get a kick of the sport. Plus, there are always great photo opportunities at those games.

I think the town would really suffer from not having a diamond, or soccer field for three seasons.

If we cannot gather and find a solution to making a temporary site for the ball diamond and soccer pitch, we might find ourselves missing out on a great deal of action.

I am, however, in favour of the proposed recreation plaza that could one day include ball diamonds, the soccer field, a new concrete skatepark and the family centre.

It is a dream that is only less than a decade away, with proper planning and a little effort.

The main thing halting this plan is that the Sir Alexander Mackenzie school building needs to be levelled first.

The school can only be torn down once students have a permanent place to learn.

So there is the dilemma of waiting for the construction of the new school building.

I have to say that the recreational services took a back seat in my head once I saw the floor plan of that new, glorious building.

Just looking at the rough draft floor design had my blood pumping with anticipation of one day walking through an education centre that surpasses any other in the territory.

Communities defined by people

Editorial Comment
Jessica Gray
Deh Cho Drum

When I first said I was visiting the Deh Cho for a month, people around me made sure I knew the sights to see.

"The fall is beautiful in the Deh Cho," and "make sure to take pictures of the Mackenzie River when you get there," or "I hear the drive to Wrigley is amazing."

Admittedly, the scenery is one of a kind here in the Deh Cho, but rivers and trees won't be the thoughts foremost in my mind as I head back to Yellowknife.

Talking to Drum editor Roxanna Thompson after she arrived back this week, she told me she was happy to be home.

She said it was a nice change to walk down the street and have people wave and greet her as she passed.

That is what I will miss.

While I was prepared for the many introductions I would have to make in the communities, I wasn't prepared for the many people who introduced themselves.

I was asked to share in the feast at the Foster Parent Appreciation Dinner celebrated this month, not because I was from the paper and taking photos, but because I was a part of the community.

At the drum dance the next evening, several people whom I had met approached me to say hello, and also many more who I hadn't met yet. I felt as if even I could have danced that night alongside people who had lived in the community for years without feeling out of place (except when my lack of rhythm became apparent).

These are the things missing from big cities. And so, looking back at my time here, I've realized it's not the places you go that stand out, it's the people you live with.

This is something residents in this area need to remember more than ever.

Speaking to leaders of bands in the region, it's clear everyone wants to work together and present a unified front.

But it takes much more than that to find a compromise or an agreement representing the region's needs as a whole.

Saying you think an agreement will be reached is a far cry from taking action to work towards a resolution. It seems as though communities are so worried about their individual needs, that they refuse to see how little they will accomplish on their own. But even so, groups supposed to represent the collective needs of all must understand what is good for one group, isn't necessarily good for others.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank those I've met for their kindness during my stay and hope the future is a bright one.

Deh Cho Drum editor Roxanna Thompson has is ready for the next edition to hit the stands.

- Regular Drum editor Roxanna Thompson is on vacation. She returns next week.


An error appeared in an article in Friday's edition of Yellowknifer, (Aurora Shines On Oct. 27). Rosalie Power's name was spelled incorrectly. Yellowknifer apologizes for any embarrassment or confusion caused by the error.